Project Wonderful

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Oh Canada, Part 2 (Deux in Montreal)

Another perspective on Canadian campaigns, this time from an anonymous follower. Enjoy below!
_____________________________________________________________________________________Hello american political operatives looking to get involved in campaigning in the great white north,

In Canada there are three levels of government municipal, provincial and federal. I’m assuming most of you Americans would be looking to get involved in either a provincial or federal race.

If you’re looking to get into a more local race, you’ll end up in what we call a constituency. Federally there are 308 constituencies and each is represented by an MP, which stands for member of parliament. Provincially, there are ten provinces and number of constituencies ranges from 30-110 depending on the size. Those constituencies are represented by an MPP which stands for member of provincial parliament.

When an election is called there is a writ period of 36 days. Usually federal and provincial elections occur every 4 years. What is important to note is that there are no set election dates. As well, if the party in power does not hold a majority and is operating in a minority government an election can be called at any time and a snap election can occur before their four years are up.

So let’s say that we’re in a writ period in a province or nation wide. In each constituency candidates will set up a campaign office. There is usually only one campaign office in each constituency unless it’s a very rural riding in which case there may be more than one. Each campaign usually consists of a team of the campaign manager, canvass chair, sign chair, volunteer coordinator, finance chair, chief of communication and some other positions depending on what is needed. And then there are the various volunteers who come in and are given a range of jobs from door canvassing, phone canvassing, lit dropping, envelope stuffing, GOTVing etc.

Typically if you want to have a paying job on a campaign you will have had to be employed an MP or MPP or the political party the candidate represents pre-writ. Candidates who are not the sitting MP or MPP will most likely have volunteers fill the important jobs of campaign manager, canvass chair, etc. Canada is not like the states in that we have very strict fundraising laws so there is not a lot of money to give our to pay staff.

Now I suppose the last thing to cover is the various political parties. Federally there are five major ones: The Liberal Party of Canada, The Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, The New Democratic Party of Canada, The Green Party of Canada and the Bloc Quebecois. Provincially most of these parties have equivalents, however it differs by province.

Feel free to research all the parties. To be honest there is not a singular party that completely matches the Democratic Party in The USA. However I do know that a fair amount of people from the Liberal Party of Canada went down to the states to campaign for Obama. Most Democrats will share most of their values with the Liberal Party of Canada, The Green Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party of Canada and their provincial equivalents.

If you have any more questions feel free to ask them and I’m sure myself and my fellow Canadian political operatives will be able to help you out.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Oh, Canada!

You guys have been asking for information on working on Canadian campaigns and here it is, courtesy of Canado-US campaigner, Joshua Hollenberg (thanks Josh)! Very interesting stuff here I learned a lot. I hope you do too!


There are two major factors that differentiate Canadian politics from American politics: parliamentary vs. presidential government, and the definition of money as speech.

The best way to describe a Canadian election is as a House of Representatives race, with the President as the leader of the House Dems. A Canadian election is made up of 308 ridings, each contested by representatives of Canada’s political parties. There are 3 major parties that contest every riding (Conservative, Liberal, New Democratic), as well as several fringe/regional parties (Green, Bloc Quebecois). The party that wins the most seats forms government, with the leader of the party as the Prime Minister. There can be majority or minority governments depending on whether the governing party receives more or less than half of the seats in the Legislature. Currently Canada has a majority government, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper leading the Conservative Party of Canada.

Ridings have up to roughly 200,000 people in them, and vary in size, depending on how dense the population is. The smallest is 9 km2, the largest spans three time zones and goes as far north as the North Pole. My experience on urban campaigns was very similar to my experience volunteering for OFA in Durham, NC for the week prior to the 2012 election: all focus and resources go to supporting the field operations, comprised of door knocking and phone calling, run out of a single office. More rural campaigns have several smaller offices in dispersed population centers, or have a greater emphasis on phone calls in remote regions.

The federal party organizations operate above the local campaigns, kind of like a presidential campaign, but without the ground game or singular focus in the lit and messaging. The party leaders, along with other prominent politicians who have national name recognition and are guaranteed to win in their ridings, tour the country making policy announcements, visiting battleground ridings, and using party messaging in media appearances. The federal parties are also responsible for producing and airing ads, maintaining a central database for voter contact and information (imagine NGP VAN was owned and maintained by the Democratic Party), and maintaining contact with the local campaigns through frequent conference calls. The parties also control branding – providing generic lit, websites, messaging, and identifying preferred vendors for lit production, robocalls, and phone banking.

The second major difference is campaign finance. For federal campaigns, personal contributions are capped at $1,100/year/person (including candidates to their own campaigns). Union, corporations, and associations are not allowed to make political donations. In addition to donation limits, campaigns and third parties have spending limits. Local campaigns are limited by a formula based on how many voters are in the riding, and federal parties were limited to $21 million each in the 2011 election. Third parties (defined as individuals or associations) who wanted to run ad campaigns leading up to the 2011 election were capped at under $190,000, and corporations and unions were banned from airing political ads. In addition, non-profit political activity is strictly limited, with the threat of loss of non-profit status if the limits are crossed.

As a result, only the federal parties can produce and air TV ads, as local campaigns face tight budgets and difficulty fundraising. After office rental, computers, printers, office supplies, lit, lawn signs, and robocalls/phone banks, there is very little money left over for additional expenditures. In kind donations must also be accounted for in campaign budgets.

Finally, because Canadian elections do not have fixed election dates, especially with minority governments that can fall at any time, there is no two-year lead up like in the States. Nobody knew if the 2011 federal election was going to happen until the opposition parties actually defeated the government, at which point there were roughly 30 days until Canadians went to the polls. This prevented pre-election spending by local campaigns, and made any attempt at election planning vague at best. Once the election was called, campaigns had to work within the spending limits and hit the ground running.

These rules greatly reduce the influence of money, but it also constrains what the parties, candidates, and staff are able to do. For example, it is very difficult to find a paid position on a Canadian campaign, as every dollar given to a paid vol is a dollar not being spent on lit, phone calls, or (for the federal campaigns) TV ads. The “professional campaigners” that exists in the US are financially impossible in Canada, which is why so many Canadians go south to practice politics. Additionally, the tech machine that was built in Chicago for OFA can’t be truly replicated in Canada, as the infrastructure requirements would dwarf the campaign budgets available to the parties.

There are many differences between Canadian and American campaigns. There is nothing like a presidential campaign in Canada in terms of scope, organization, or spending. There is only one level of government up for election at a time – no coordinated campaigns. We don’t elect our Senators or our judges, and provincial (state) campaigns run on their own schedules. There are no major conventions or massive rallies, as those things cost a lot of money. Parties have programs to track voter contacts and histories, but nothing as intense as Narwhal. Most importantly, all data is religiously tracked and kept, as elections are built around parties, not presidential candidates. From what I saw in the States, the infrastructure built by Obama will have to be rebuilt by his successor; whereas in Canada the parties maintain much more of the organizational structure regardless of party leader.

However, the similarities between the two countries are much more telling than their differences. Both have campaigns with three parts: voter ID, voter persuasion, and GOTV. Door knocking is the primary method of campaigning, supported by phone calls. GOTV wins elections. There is no greater joy than winning, and no disappointment more painful than losing. And most importantly, campaigns are run by amazingly motivated and dedicated volunteers who eat poorly and don’t get enough sleep, but we love them for what they do!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Your Official Campaignsick Store

Hi!!! I am finally done with finals! I wanted to roll this out with a little more pizzazz, but with the Christmas coming up and Hanukkah already over I had to make sure I rolled this out.

So, I made a little Zazzle store. It's nothing fancy and I'm still hoping to add more stuff, but tell me what you think of it! You can shop the store here. Generally I get about at 15% royalty, which is not that much, so if you want to buy these things for my sake, just send me money.But please shop if you like the things I made! Sample of some of the products below. Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rootscamp 2012!

First off, I am so bummed that I haven't be able to post a lot lately, that is what happens when you straight up leave graduate school for three weeks. The good news is, I'll see lots of you at Rootscamp this weekend! I will be leading two sessions; one special insiders' edition of my volunteer recruitment and one about women on campaigns and my very fascinating graduate work. You should totally come! (Click here to buy your ticket) But WHAT IS ROOTSCAMP you ask. Well! I know of just the interview for you to find out!

So...who are you?

I’m Jamie McGonnigal and I’m the Director of RootsCamp. [That's him, above.] I’m a bunch of other things too, but I suppose for the purposes of this interview, that’s what I do.

What is Rootscamp?

RootsCamp is the largest national progressive debrief in the country. Our National RootsCamp happens in DC generally around the end of any election. While the schedule exists based on our country’s elections, the organizing and sharing of best practices that happens at RootsCamp moves far outside our electoral cycles.

RootsCamp is a place where organizers come to talk about the challenges and successes they’ve had in the past year and figure out specifically what their next steps are. At the New Organizing Institute, we are big fans of what we refer to as “Engagement Organizing.” It’s taking organizing to a new level by encouraging people to stay involved and build movements even when there isn’t a vote to worry about. The first step in engagement organizing is debriefing. If we don’t learn from the work that we do, it’s difficult to move forward and innovate for the future.

The way it works is that when you come in, you’ll see a mostly blank agenda we call “The Wall.” During the opening events, you fill out a card for a session you’d like to present, turn it in to our Wall creators and head to the first pre-seeded session. By the time you get out, the Wall will be filled with cards from as many people as we can fit.

Why an UNConference?

An UN-conference is a place where people come together and the hierarchy is removed. We believe that everyone has something to teach and everyone has something to learn. So if you want to present on a new technology, or have a discussion about innovations in field organizing you’ve encountered, you can. This is about executive directors of national organizations learning from canvassers or brand new organizers discussing strategy with people who’ve been in the field for 50 years.

We set it up this way because it puts everyone on the same level from the moment they walk in the door. There are plenty of places in the world where we already have to deal with being separated in our work. RootsCamp isn’t one of those places.

What should I bring?

Probably a coat and scarf. It’s been chilly around here. Also bring a notebook, some resumés, and a winning smile. Well…the winning smile is optional I suppose, but I felt the need to say something cheesy.

Can Rootscamp help me get a job?

Funny you should ask! Yes! On Saturday from 12-3pm, in association with NOI’s new Work Forward program and sponsored by AFL-CIO, we’ll be hosting our career fair. There will be anywhere between 50-100 employers looking for the brightest organizing talent they can find. So bring a couple resumés and maybe a little something nice to wear. Happily we can claim literally hundreds of organizers have found jobs through our RootsCamp Career Fair.

What are some sessions you found surprising/exciting last year?

Unfortunately I didn’t have the chance to attend many sessions last time as I was running things – and this year will undoubtedly not be very different. But the few that I did stop in on briefly were sessions on how to stay healthy on the campaign trail, an excellent session on Pinterest (of all things), a Troy Davis case study and a debrief of the marriage equality win in New York.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

We have some awesome sessions already proposed and some of our partner sessions are going to be incredible. Upworthy is going to be doing their “How to win the internetz” session which I saw at Netroots and am very excited about. Also there’s a great volunteer recruitment inside edition session being done by some hot lady. There’s actually a huge variety at this point from Veterans organizers to WalMart to LGBT to Women to African American and Immigration…sooo many things will be talked about!

Why is your Twitter handle McBenefit and what's up with you and Pokemon?

I lived in New York for about 13 years and during that time I produced about 200 Broadway concerts and events. Most of which were benefits for different charities. My friends Max von Essen and Scott Nevins coined the nickname “Jamie McBenefit” and it stuck. I figured you could be nicknamed far worse things.

And as for Pokémon, I’ve been a voice actor for the past 14 years and I’ve been doing voices for Pokémon for the past 10 roughly. I’ve spent the past 6 years or so playing Ash’s main rivals, Barry and now Trip. I’ve also worked on Yu-Gi-Oh!, Viva Pinata, One Piece and a bunch of other anime and video games. It’s one of those fun things I get to talk about when we’re done debriefing at RootsCamp!

Seriously. Click here to buy your ticket to the fun!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tips for Writing a Campaign Resume

A number of readers have written in asking how to put campaign experience down on a resume. When applying for campaign jobs (which are the only resumes I’ve reviewed and hired from) the rules are very similar to those we are taught in college, yet so often ignored that they’re worth going over again. In addition, I have included an excerpt from when I was a baby organizer, which has been edited by my mentors over the years, to give you and idea of how an organizer resume might look.

Keep it to one page-
If you are in a position where you are seeking my advice on what to put in your resume, there is no reason why you need a resume that is more than a page long (that said, it also should not be much shorter than a page). Use your cover letter to expound on what you learned and in your resume stick to what you did.

Use a professional email address- When I get an application from, I have an immediate bias against the applicant before I’ve even opened the attachment. It’s unprofessional to use anything other than your name or the name of your company (plus numbers or initials as necessary) in a business email and doing so shows you are out of touch with professional etiquette, even as such exists on a campaign. A school address or gmail is fine, but generally--and I know this may sound shallow-- aol, hotmail, and yahoo are looked down upon.

Tell the truth- We’re all taught to exaggerate on our resumes and by all means put your best foot forward, but remember that campaigns are a very small world. Your future boss will check up on your former employment so it better be legit. I once got a resume from a former paid canvasser on a campaign I had run, claiming that she had been an organizer on that campaign. Needless to say she did not get an interview.

Focus on your accomplishments- No one is going to hold you responsible for a loss (nor credit you for a win) if you were an organizer on a large race. Although of course it helps to be part of a race that has a reputation for a stellar field operation. But you can talk about your own personal accomplishments like building and training a volunteer base, running voter contact operations in your turf, or organizing a large event.

Use real numbers- Campaign people love real numbers! On a resume, they help cut through bullshit and highlight the value of the work you’ve done. “Organized event with Bill Clinton” is good “Organized 3,000 person event with Former President Clinton in under 3 days” is better.

Use Action words- Managed, Led, Created, Recruited, Designed, Built. Every bullet on your resume should start with an action word.

I’ve included an example from my own resume a couple of years ago. Because of blogspot limitations bullets run over and formatting looks incorrect, but on your resume most bullets should not go over one line and bullets should not be asterisks.

Lead Field Organizer, March 2007- January 2008, John Edwards for President, Iowa City, IA
*Built and supervised grassroots leadership teams and established campaign presence in four counties
*Coordinated voter contact program in most heavily Democratic county in Iowa
*Supervised five student interns and led student outreach program at Iowa’s largest university
*Organized and staffed 40+ community events and town hall forums with Senator Edwards and surrogates, including a 850+ person concert and rally
*Directed Get-Out-The-Caucus effort for 5 staging locations and 250+ volunteer shifts over 6 days

For more great tips check out this piece from FOCS, Evan Sutton at NOI.

Happy Hunting!

Nancy Leeds

Monday, November 12, 2012

What's Next II: Post Election FAQs

Hello and welcome back! I hope by now you've had some whiskey, sleep, shower, sex or whatever gets you feeling like a person again. Thank you for respecting my brief, but thoroughly enjoyed recuperation period. I got to do birthday karaoke, sleep for 18 hours straight and finally (after a year and a half) begin decorating my win! Congratulations again to everyone-especially OFA Florida, talk about a field win, huh? But more on that later. For now, down to business.

I'm totally happy to answer all your post-election job finding questions, and if I don't know the answer, committed to finding someone who can. All I ask is that you read what I've already written before you ask. This helps me get to your questions more quickly and also makes me feel appreciated. So in that vein, please read this post on general job seeky resources and advice as well as the following FAQ's before submitting your question. And awaaaaay we go!

I have only worked in state/on local campaigns, but I want to branch out and work out of state/on federal campaigns. How do I make the transition?

Networking. That's going to be my first answer to a lot of these, so you should imagine "networking" before my answer to all the other questions. I lumped these two together because they have been asked together as well as individually and the answers overlap as well. If you want to get out of state OR go federal, get in touch with the DS (Democratic Senate Committee) or the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee). If you're looking to work in Virginia or New Jersey in the "off year" (and I would humbly suggest that you consider coming to New York City as well) get in touch with a specific candidate and/or the DLCC, Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee or a powerful endorsing organization, like EMILY's List, and let them know. I think there's a myth among people who have only worked within their state that it's very difficult to get a job as an out-of-stater. While in-staters may be preferable for a number of reasons, validation, local connections, knowledge of the area, you can easily overcome this barrier and find something out of state if that's what you desire.

I worked for a Republican in the past, but I want to work for Democrats. Will that hinder my chances?

Potentially, but you can work through it. People tend to want to hire people who remind them of themselves (a phenomenon pertinent to many of these scenarios) so that's a potential hurdle. In addition, many of us, especially those who have been partisan hacks for a long time, will have trouble seeing how someone can have Republican values one year and Democratic the next, and may question your motives or loyalty. The good news is since you know that, you can address it in a cover letter. Briefly explain why you worked for a member of a different party in the past--personal relationship, exceptional candidate, one party is the only game in town--and what skills and experiences are applicable to what you want to do now. In addition, if you are able, get an outside validator (someone you already know who knows those people) from within the Democratic party who can vouch for you to the campaign to which you're applying.

Will you post jobs/take resumes?

I will post jobs from organizations and people I already have a relationship with, but in general there are so many great websites that aggregate progressive job postings already that I don't feel the need to reinvent the wheel. You can find some of those organizations listed here. For the same reason, I am not collecting resumes, save for those from people with whom I have a prior relationship.

I want to work on the Hill. How do I do that?

I am not the best person to ask because I have never and probably will never have the urge to work on Capitol Hill. I will likely move to DC in May kicking and screaming. So, if you are a person who has gone from campaigns to Congress, I invite you to write in and share some advice. What I do know is it's hard. That's not to say you can't do it, just know there will be a lot of competition and it may not happen right away. Here is what I've seen work for people in the past. If you want to work in Washington, you should move to DC. The circular truth is that to get Hill experience, you often need Hill experience. So,even if it means taking an unpaid internship in a Congressional office and bartending until something opens up, you should do that. They say that DC is like Hollywood for ugly people and I think that's pretty apt. Just imagine hundreds of little organizers just like you wandering around resume in hand.

In addition, you should network your glittery little heart out (there's that word again). Talk to your Senators and Representatives, anyone you know who has connections to current Representatives and Senators, and the staff of any Senators or Representatives whom you helped elect. Don't just ask about their offices, but their colleagues' as well. Find out which members are newly elected and thus might be looking for staff. Think about how you might have a connection to their geographic area or issues of interest. Tom Manatos is a good source for job openings on Capitol Hill.

This was my first time working on a campaign, am I a candidate for a leadership (RFD) position next cycle?

That really depends. Sometimes when people say "working" on a campaign they mean volunteering (not to diminish the great work our volunteers do) and even "volunteering" can mean anything from putting out yard signs to working full time side by side with staff. Organizing can be similarly varied. Were you a deputy field organizer for two weeks or were you the first on the ground in your area organizing for a year? Very, very generally people are organizers for two cycles before they become Regionals on a statewide or Field Directors on Congressionals, but it varies widely in both directions and of course you could always switch departments.

I love this job, but how can I afford to do it all the time?

Some great advice on the subject from my friend, Ed, here. Also, supporter housing.

I feel like crap (physically).

Sleep it off, champ! That's totally normal. Your body was running on adrenaline toward the end of the campaign and now you're coming down, so give yourself a little time to recover. Plus if you were in bumblecrunch Texas like I was, you probably started to bleed fried chicken, so maybe get some exercise and a nice home cooked meal.

I miss campaigns! I am trying to relax but I am so lonely! How can I go back to normal life? How do you deal with this feeling?

That's why I started this blog!

Good Luck! Now that you have read these answers thoroughly, feel free to ask away. Look forward to information on career fairs and how to write a good campaign resume, plus back to our regularly scheduled programming all coming up soon!


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Morning After

Shortly after I began writing CampaignSick, I did a brief stint on a coordinated campaign. Although we won all of our races and I got to work with some operatives who I love and admire, I did not particularly respect the candidate and did not feel respected by many members of the staff, nor did I find the parts of the operation particularly well run. The day after the election, amidst celebration in our headquarters, I sat on an nationwide conference call and burst into tears every time a friend's losing Senate or Congressional race was mentioned. 2010 was a difficult year for Democrats and I was glad to be part of the anomaly that elected several new ones, but I could not fully enjoy my victory disconnected from my compatriots who were hurting all over the country.

I know what it is to give your heart to a race and a candidate, to lose health, wealth and relationships in pursuit of a cause and still come up empty. Although that candidate has been since discredited, I will never forget the sense of loss and disillusionment I felt waking up the day after losing the Iowa caucuses, nor do I really want to.

Today, I experience the exact opposite of the emotions I felt in 2010. For the majority of you who won, I am so, so proud. I hope it's not presumptuous to feel that I share in your victory and take genuine pride in our efforts and your accomplishments. I started crying last night (while still keeping voters on line at the polls) when I read a tweet that Missouri was projecting for McCaskill and have not stopped for more than a full hour since. Every celebratory facebook post, tweet and text message makes me tear up with affection for this special community and for my friends, many of whom have worked tirelessly for our cause for years and are only now experiencing the victories they so richly deserve. I cannot wait to celebrate with you over the coming weeks, at Rootscamp, on the internet, and back in New York City.

A lot has changed in the two years since I started this blog. Given the blessing of my readership it would be hard for me to argue that I am disconnected from anyone this morning. Also given that blessing, I would have been welcomed to spend these last two weeks on a number of races across the country, and indeed received several offers. As you probably know by now, I came to Texas to work as the GOTV Director for Nick Lampson's unsuccessful Congressional bid.

Nick would have been a superlative Congressman, and in fact already was. He is a genuine, warm, intelligent person, experienced politician, and a sincere and passionate advocate for his community. However in fairness, I did not know that when I accepted this position. I came down because a campaign manager I liked and respected asked me to. I had already resolved to leave on the first decent race that offered to pay me and said yes before he had even finished offering me a job. But unlike 2010, I immediately fell in love with the candidate and his campaign staff. Those of you who have worked with me in the past can attest to my high standards, work ethic, and lack of regard for those I find incompetent. Every other time I have come in this late to an operation, I have had to overhaul the field plan, pull a coup d'etat or single handedly recruit an entire campaign's worth of volunteers. Not so here.

There is nothing else these guys could have done, and nothing I would have done differently. They had a campaign and a candidate that were ten times better than the opposition and operated at a level befitting five times the resources they were given. Their field director graciously and without ego welcomed me into his operation and in two weeks he and I have developed the kind of mutual respect and friendship that only comes from shared passion and talent and often takes years to form. His organizers left it all on the field and their enthusiasm and instincts reaffirmed my passion for campaigning and reasons for writing this blog. Working for the Lampson campaign reminded me that there are still truly great candidates and truly wonderful people for me to work with when I finish school. My experience here has left me infinitely more energized and optimistic than when I came down. The only negative emotion I feel is my empathy for my coworkers, knowing the pain that comes with giving it your all and still not reaping the reward. There is no campaign staff in the country with whom I would have rather spent election night, regardless of outcome.

I am going to celebrate with them for a couple of days and then head back to my temporary real/fake life in New York. Won or lost, I am incredibly proud of all of you and I look forward to many celebratory emails and posts in the days to come.

Get some whiskey and sleep!


Monday, November 5, 2012

See You In Victory!

This is actually my last chance to talk to CampaignSick Nation before the big day tomorrow. I keep thinking about what I can say that hasn't been said before. I already gave you my big pep talk and you have most of my good anecdotes.

I was pontificating on what to say on my way out to the dumpster with various Diet Coke and beer bottles, when I had one of those detached from reality campaign staffer experiences where I forget what state I'm in. Usually I just laugh those off, but today I found it poignant. In a way, I am in more that one office. I stand on the shoulders of giants, generations of organizers like me who have fought and endured setbacks so that we could have the progress for which we will vote tomorrow. On each new campaign I bring my former coworkers with me, in my heart; their best practices, their mistakes and the genuine lasting affection we have for one another are mine wherever I am. I'm not just in Texas. I'm in Florida, Colorado, Missouri, Connecticut and Brooklyn with them. And of course, I have all of you. I can't tell you how honored I am to be as various contributors have described me, your "big sister," "field director to the world" and the "organizers' fairy godmother." I want you to know that I am with you as well and I wish I could be there with each and every one of you to celebrate with or comfort you tomorrow evening.

There are many times I will tell you to be less dramatic or to keep it together, but this is not one of them. The truth is I get super emo at this point. This job is special, damnit and important. Whether you never work a campaign again or you make this your career you will look back on these times fondly and never be 40, working an office job and wonder if you could have done something more worthwhile with your youth. I believe our candidates are going to win tomorrow, but I also believe that they would lose without a world class turnout operation. Right now, at this moment, you have the most important job in the world.

I could not think of a bigger blessing as I near my (yikes!) 28th birthday this Thursday than to have the love and respect of the people and profession to whom I have devoted my life and whom I love. I thank God every day for the honor and responsibility of connecting with so many progressive organizers who care about our country and strive to make it and themselves better. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

From one organizer to another, give 'em hell tomorrow.

See you in Victory!


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Election Day Confirm Calls

I went to write a little note about making a good E-day Confirm Call for the organizers over here and I thought it might be something you all could benefit from as well. So here it goes. Best practices for E-day Confirm Calls:

Make (at least) three rounds of calls to your Election Day Vols. Sunday, Monday AM and Monday Evening. Leave a message on Sunday and Monday Eve.

Never say we're calling to "confirm" always says we're calling to "remind." These people signed up, the expectation should be that they are showing.

Even if you have spoken to this volunteer before, make sure you confirm the staging location address and the phone number to reach out to you-. Impress on them that you are expecting them and that they should call you if they have any problems getting there.

Always ask the volunteer if they have someone they can bring with them (husband, wife, children, friend).

Remind volunteer of anything he/she will need to bring (for example a cell phone and charger).

If they are scheduled for a later shift ask them to come for an earlier shift as well.

Sample: Eday confirm call

Hey this is a message for Loretta. This is Nancy with the Jonah Hill for Congress campaign. Just wanted to remind you we're counting on seeing you at our campaign office at 169 Cashew Blvd in Fayetteville tomorrow at 10am to make some phone calls. We are expecting a high turnout election on both sides so please make sure you are here on time to help us turn out as many voters for Jonah as possible. Don't forget to bring your cell phone and charger. If you have any questions at all, please give me a call at 866-NANCY. Can't wait to see you tomorrow! We're counting on you to help us win!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Your Official CampaignSick Pep Talk (TM)

I'm laying on my stomach on my bed at the Red Roof Inn. My comforter has a cigarette burn in it. I was supposed to go out with my coworkers, but I got stuck in 30 mins of traffic, so instead I ordered pizza hut because it is the only food that delivers here. In fact, I have not seen a vegetable that was not deep fried or covered in cheese since I arrived. My first day here, I was awake for 22 hrs during which time I left the office once to get coffee and once to get toothpaste since I had not brushed my teeth in that long...but Goddamnit if I don't love my job.

I've been thinking a lot about what to write in this pep talk, which has been requested multiple times over the last few weeks. It wasn't that I couldn't think of anything inspirational to share with you. It was that I couldn't narrow it down.

Do you realize how amazing our job is? With all the money, and the negativity and the minsinformation that goes into campaigns, it still comes down to neighbors talking to neighbors. Field is the purest expression of democracy, and it's what's going to win this campaign. Sure it can be maddening when people don't seem to give a shit, but you don't have to do this, you get to. You get to spend your days empowering people and helping them believe in what's great about our country. You get to wake up every morning albeit on 4 hrs sleep and know that what you do at work today absolutely makes a difference. And you get to believe in the power of democracy, and in your own ability to effect change, more so than the average American, because you see it every day first hand.

These are not trivial issues we're dealing with. We're talking about health care, war and civil liberties. You do your job for the people who ACTUALLY can't because they are sick in the hospital because their insurance wouldn't let them go to the doctor on time. Do your job for a 15 year old who is bullied in school for being effeminate and whose teachers have no recourse to protect him. Do your job for a 16 year old who was molested by her cousin and is afraid to seek abortion counseling because her rape might not be considered "legitmate."

If you are lucky enough to have a candidate in whom you truly believe, do your job for him. But even if you aren't, that's not always what it's about. Volunteers come into the office for the candidate, but they stay for you. You join the campaign for the candidate, but you do it for each other. No matter how crazy your boss or your co-workers might be driving you right now, there is someone on this campaign you love. You know how she takes her coffee, you mock each other's taste in music and you could pick her volunteer ask out of a line up. And you should, because campaign people are incredible. No offense to my wonderful classmates, but I feel more comfortable out for drinks with the people I've known here for three days than with the people I've spent time with for over a year. We get each other. We've dealt with yard sign activists, we've built 10,000 person events on 24 hrs notice, we've knocked on doors, looked strangers in the eye and promised them that their vote can make a difference. We are all willing to dial a phone until our fingers break if that's what it takes, because this is just that important. In what other world can I wear sweatpants to work, curse like a sailor, and have a beer with a Congressman? It's an incredibly special community that you're a part of.

And what of those volunteers? I tell candidates that when they ask donors for money that they're making an implicit promise to do everything they can to get elected in exchange for that support. It's the same bond between you and your volunteers. Everyone has that one volunteer whose story they tell over and over again, who offered to do your laundry, who cooked you dinner when you were dragging on the floor, who wheeled her chemo bag into the office to make calls. For all of the frustration that some activists can bring, I've had volunteers I met as an organizer who to this day follow me in my heart to every campaign office.

Finally, I wanted to share something that a now prominent member of the Obama campaign once shared with me.

State Director: Everyone raise your hands!
Field Staff: (Raises hands)
State Director: As high as you can!
Field Staff: (Raises hands higher)
State Director: Higher!
Field Staff: (Raises hands higher)
State Director: Higher!
Field Staff: (Raises hands higher)
State Director: Liars.

You are capable of more than you believe. It is a great a lesson that campaigns have taught me, and a good one to remember during these last couple days. This work is too important to give up now and your bosses wouldn't let you do it if they didn't know that you could. You can sleep, shower and eat on Novermber 7th. As Muhammad Ali says "suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion."

I can't tell you how proud I am of you all and how grateful I am that you let me into your offices each day. I know you are working just as hard for me as I am for you and I promise you, win lose or draw it will be worth it.

Now go! Leave it all on the field!

Campaign Love,

Friday, October 26, 2012

Surprise! You're getting a surrogate!

Hypothetically, let's say you get a call with 24 hrs notice telling you a high level surrogate has finally agreed to stump for your campaign. This happens a lot this late in the cycle. It happened to me in 2010 when we had just 3 days to plan an event with the President for 10,000 people. Where do you start? What do you do? Here is a list of questions to ask yourself and reminders about protocol when planning a big event with a little notice. Note that some of these things can (and ideally should) be determined way ahead of time so that when the call comes you can start calling through the appropriate lists right away.

Where will ADA seating be available and what is the protocol?

Where are people entering? How will you get them signed in?

Is there adequate parking? If not can you arrange a shuttle?

Do you need/where will you get bunting, flags, etc?

Will there be a clutch? If there is a clutch will it be for donors, politicos or supervols- and who will you include?

How will you designate people for the cluth or VIP seating area? (Special entrance? A list? A ticket?)

Who needs a personalized phone call from the campaign to let them know about the event?

Who will introduce your surrogate? Who else will speak?

Will there be entertainment, if so who?

Will there be a convocation or pledge of allegiance? If so, who will lead it?

Who will be allowed on stage with the surrogate?

What is the make up of your district/universe? How will you ensure that shots from the event reflect that universe?

If the event is ticketed which organizations and politicians will need tickets for "their people"?

What will be the contact number/email for the event? Who will check the voicemail?

Make sure that the outgoing voicemail has pertinent information for the event.

Who will have your candidate's cell phone the day of the event?

Where will the media be? Who is your media contact?

Make sure to ask the surrogate to make a GOTV sign up ask at the end of his/her speech.

Will you have a sign language interpreter?

Do not allow outside signs into your event for both safety and political reasons.

Where are the bathrooms?

What to bring
Yard Signs
Directional Arrows
Signs for ADA seating
Sign In Sheets
Sign UP Sheets
Donation Envelopes
Placards and/or Home Made Signs

Let me know how it goes!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Some Awesome Women Candidates You Should Know About

One of my great passions is women's political participation, something that I have not be able to devote enough time to of late. You may remember when I wrote about Mindy Myers, I promised to highlight some positive role model female candidates this election cycle.

Why women you may ask? Did you know that women make up 52% of the American electoral yet just 17% of Congress? Not only that, but women are shown to be responsive to constituent communications, more likely to reach across the aisle and more likely to address issues that disproportionately affect women, like human trafficking, breast cancer research and reproductive rights.

But there is good news! Thanks to an unprecedented number of female candidates this cycle, we have the opportunity to increase the number of female representatives in Congress to an all time high. As readers will likely remember, when women run they win at the same rates as men. Huffington Post offers a fabulous map of all the women up for Congressional election on Nov 6th, but I've chosen to highlight these three.

b>Tulsi Gabbard, Democrat, Hawaii 2nd
Gabbard is an Iraq war veteran and the youngest women ever elected to a state legislature. At 19, she founded her own non-proft focused on Hawaiian environmental and community health issues. On top of all that, Gabbard is Hindu and a first generation immigrant from American Samoa, bringing some much needed diversity to Congress.

Tammy Baldwin, Democrat, Wisconsin
Baldwin is the first woman elected to Congress from the state of Wisconsin. If elected this time she will be the first openly gay person in the United States Senate, as well as Wisconsin's first female Senator. As a Congresswoman, she voted against the invasion of Iraq and fought for the passage of the Affordable Care Act and sponsored legislation to provide access to early education programs for underprivileged families.

Grace Meng, Democrat, New York 6th
I'm just yanking this one from Jezebel because they sum it up perfectly. "The 36-year-old Chinese-American former public interest lawyer has spent her career in the New York State Legislature doing the opposite of declaring a War on Women. She supported a law that would have required all New York universities to provide emergency contraception to any student who requested it and supported a bill that would have required health insurance companies to cover prescription formula. She's also called Rush Limbaugh on his bullshit when radio's loudest fart said some racist stuff about Chinese President Hu Jintao."

We will talk, much MUCH more after the election. In the meantime go vote for some (qualified) women!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Favorite Mistake- Why I am Way More Excited to Vote for Barack Obama in 2012 than I Was in 2008

I want to share you guys on a little secret: I actively disliked Barack Obama when he ran for President in 2008. As a Democratic operative for a Senate candidate in a swing state, I even turned out voters for him, but I didn't like the guy. Don't get me wrong, I still voted for him. I'm not a self/poor/gay-hating feminist. But unlike the vast majority of my contemporaries, I was the proverbial voter holding her nose in the voting booth.

I'll be the first to admit, some of my reasons for disliking now President Obama were petty. I had spent 11 months in Iowa working for his opponent (John Edwards) in the caucuses. To work those kind of hours in that kind of climate (particularly for that kind of candidate) you have to believe that anyone else securing the nomination is tantamount to armageddon. In part because of the attitude and inexperience of certain staff members with whom I interacted, and in part because of my lingering sadness and confusion over John Edwards losing the primary and the subsequent scandal, I found his campaign condescending and difficult to work with.

Even after Obama's inauguration, I remained skeptical of his liberal credentials and his penchant for compromise. I was worried that he was more smoke than substance. I’ve always been more of an LBJ than JFK kinda girl.

But there was another reason I was wary of Obama’s 2008 campaign, and the candidate himself: Hope. The fervor and enthusiasm that accompanied Obama’s 2008 campaign is the stuff of legends. Hordes of activists my age and younger knocked doors, made phone calls and attended rock concert-esque rallies with the belief that this man could single-handedly change the way we do business. As a career Democratic operative, I worried that Obama could not live up to this promise and that the result would be a generation of disappointed and disenfranchised voters.

Despite having missed out on the fun (and career opportunities) of supporting the President in 2008, I view my former skepticism as a tremendous gift. I can look with clear eyes (and full heart) over the past four years and say this President has met and exceeded my wildest expectations.

I could talk about 800,000 jobs created and 32 consecutive months of private sector job growth, and all of that would be true. But I don’t really work in the private sector, and by dint of what I do, any Democratic nominee would contribute to my job opportunities. Let’s talk about what matters to me, as a voter.

1) Health Care. Devotees will remember that I’ve had a rare life threatening illness since I was 17. Had I not been on my parents’ insurance when I started feeling symptoms, I very easily could have died. Without quick diagnosis and access to specialists, I could have lost my vision, had a stroke or needed to have a limb amputated by the time they figured out what was wrong with me. I know this because there are people in my Takayasu’s Arteritis facebook group who were diagnosed too late because they couldn’t afford to go to the doctor or their HMOs didn’t provide them access to tests and doctors familiar with my disease, knowledge that is never far from my mind. Needless to say, this is an intensely personal issue for me. My President has successfully passed the first meaningful health care legislation in my lifetime, ensuring that no little Nancy is afraid to go to the doctor because her family won’t be able to afford ensuing health care costs.

2) Equal Rights. My first internship in politics was at Gay Men’s Health Crisis, an AIDS advocacy organization in New York City. It was the summer after John Kerry lost the 2004 election and spirits were extremely low. Every day I would go up to the lunch line (we served free lunch to clients who could not afford both food and the rising costs of medication) and try to get our clients to call the Speaker of the New York State Senate asking him to block a bill that cut funding for Medicare, a program on which many of our clients relied. Every day my requests were met with the same responses. “I'm sick and I'm gay. The government doesn't care about me.” or “It won't make a difference. There's nothing I can do.” It was there that I first fell in love with organizing. When I finally convinced a client to make a phone call, a light went off in my mind. He would not have made that call without me. I wasn't just giving him the opportunity to speak out on one issue, I was showing him that there was someone listening on the other end of the phone. I thought about my clients when Barack Obama made history by coming out in support of equal marriage. I thought, “See? Your President sees you, he cares about you.” I wept. It wasn’t just because some of the most important people in my world are gay and I want them to be able to get married (although they are and I do.) This could be any group. Gay marriage is a civil rights issue and my President is on the right side of it. I feel safer and prouder to be an American knowing I have a President who takes the concepts of equality, liberty and the pursuit of happiness seriously.

3) Meritocracy. There’s this myth that liberals want to move toward a socialist society where everyone’s the same and makes the same amount of money. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am a huge advocate for personal responsibility and frankly,a snob. I firmly believe that there are people who are smarter, more talented and more driven than most of society and they deserve to have more, better stuff. What I don’t believe is that all of these people are magically rich, white, cis-gendered men. Meritocracy means equality of opportunity, not equality of result. My President passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, doubled funding for pell grants and established a college tax credit to ensure that the true cream rises to the top and our country can continue to lead and innovate.

4) 9/11. I didn’t realize how much September 11th had affected to me until I spent a September across the country from New York. While seeing a plane crash into the twin towers was shocking and terrifying to anyone watching, New Yorkers experienced the immediate fear that we knew someone who was down there. I was a Senior at High School at the time and I remember comforting a girl I had never met before who was sobbing hysterically because her father worked downtown and cell phone towers were down so she couldn’t get in touch with him. Where were our parents and grandparents? My father, who grew up in the city, couldn’t bear to hear it discussed in public for weeks afterwards. While I found it crass to celebrate Osama Bin Laden’s assassination, especially with the knowledge that it could never bring people back who had died, his death settled something in me that I hadn’t even know was unsettled. It reaffirmed American supremacy in a way I found deeply comforting. My President shot the boogy man and signed the First Responders bill.

5) The war in Iraq. Have we all forgotten that this President ended the war in Iraq? A war that should never have been started in the first place? A war that was an international embarrassment? My President followed through on his commitment to end the war, saving countless lives to say nothing of money that could be spent on education and health care.

As you can imagine, its very difficult for me to relate to someone who is not excited about voting, and this year in particular. If you are one of those people who was fired up about the President in 2008 and isn't feeling it this year, I urge you to show up at a campaign office and see if you don't get inspired. I could scare you by asking you to consider what a President Romney would mean for women, gay people, and the working class, but the truth is I shouldn't have to. Our President has done so much in these past 4 years to move our country forward that his record stands on it's own even without comparison.

If after all that you still resent our President for not living up to whatever ill defined expectations you may have set for him 4 years ago, I'll make you a deal: I voted for him when you were guzzling kool aid, even though I was dragging my heels to the voting booth and the sounds of the man's voice made me viscerally nauseous- so please return the favor. I'm confident that gamble will work out just as satisfyingly for you as it has for me.

Fired Up and Ready to Go,


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Straight from the Horse's Ass's Mouth

Check out this Anti-Todd Akin add from progressive Super PAC American Bridge.

“Todd Akin’s remarks on ‘legitimate rape’ are just a starting point for his extreme views,” American Bridge spokesman Matt Thornton said. “We figured there is no better way to show Missouri voters that Akin is unqualified to be a U.S. Senator than to let him speak for himself.”

A very powerful idea if people actually open the mailers and listen to them. The advantage of campaign mail being that unlike ads and emails you HAVE to see it when you take your mail in. Speaking of which, did you know the US Postal Service is running a campaign (pun intended) to increase the number of political mailers as a way to boost its revenue stream?

“The USPS recognizes MailPOW leaves an impression that POWers voters from the mail box to the ballot box. We’re thrilled and honored that the USPS is promoting our talking cards,” said Crystal Martin, the entrepreneur behind the product.

Can't wait to see a study in the impact of these cards.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Get Outta My Dreams, And Into My Binder

By now, most marginally politically savvy people are aware of Mitt Romney's bizarre comment that he had "binders full of women" when he was Governor of Massachusetts. For the record, if I were not going out on the trail to do GOTV, I would totally be a binder for Halloween.

As you may or may not know, in addition to my MPA, I am getting a Certificate in Gender Policy (because I want to be Amy Gardner when I grow up.) When considering any public policy, I can't help but view it through a gender policy lens and Tuesday's debate was a doozy. Audience member, Katerine Fenton, asked this question about workplace inequality, “In what new ways do you intend to rectify inequalities in the workplace? Specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn.” Interestingly, Fenton has outspokenly rejected the label of 'feminist' and remains undecided, but I'll let you unpack that kettle of fish on your own.

Let's discuss the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Lilly Ledbetter itself is not what gives women the right to equal pay, that would be the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Lilly Ledbetter states that the statute of limitations "for filing an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new paycheck affected by that discriminatory action." In other words, it doesn't make it illegal to pay men and women differently for the same job, it makes it more feasible to do something about it.

Right now in the United States, women make 77 cents for every dollar that men make.
"But," you may argue, "some women choose to take time off to care for children. Women are less ambitious than men. Women choose to work in different fields." I would challenge some of those assumptions. How do you define ambition? How are women socialized not to exhibit ambitious behaviors, or to choose alternate fields? Most concretely, even when women do try to fit in the male model they are not rewarded in the same ways as men. (Brilliant catalyst study that I highly recommend to anyone interested in these things.)

Second,they can adjust for these differences. (Don't worry they got a man to do the math.) Even when every single discrepancy is accounted for; race, class, children, education, job title, job function, etc, women still make 5% less than men across the board. So, not supporting or being non-committal about legislation that allows women to do something about this (like say, Mitt Romney is) is pretty ludicrous. (LUDA!)

Now, let's talk about something that Mitt Romney said about women in the workplace, that, hold on to your underpanties, I actually sort of agree with:
"I recognized that if you're going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school. She said, I can't be here until 7 or 8 o'clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o'clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school. So we said fine. Let's have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you."
Romney has gotten a lot of flack for the implication that women's first responsibility is in the home, but flexible schedules and job share are actually recognized and respectable policies to help patch the "leaky pipeline" of women in the workplace. It's something I could imagine myself taking advantage of when I become the world's most politically active housewife (move over, Bill Clinton.) Can men or childless women take advantage of these policies? Sure. But let's call a cat a cat. It is mostly women with familial obligations requesting these policies and mostly those women taking advantage of them. It would be fabulous if more men were to take advantage of these policies in dual earner households, since as one of my Professors is fond of saying "it's not going to be 50/50 at the top until it's 50/50 at the bottom." But, it is not a Governor's place to tell families how to divide household responsibilities (after all, we're talking about the party of small government) nor do I think it is healthy to expect him to deny the societal pressures that hinder women's ability to advance in their careers. So while he phrased his answer and explained the policy ectremely poorly, I'm going to go ahead and assert that the policy in and of itself is not sexist.

What I loved about President Obama's answer was that in addition to addressing the Lily Ledbetter Act (which he signed) he pointed out that healthcare and birth control are economic issues for women. (Killed it.) Speaking of birth control, let's address Mitt Romney's ridiculous solution to gun violence in our country:
But let me mention another thing, and that is parents. We need moms and dads helping raise kids. Wherever possible, the — the benefit of having two parents in the home — and that’s not always possible. A lot of great single moms, single dads. But gosh, to tell our kids that before they have babies, they ought to think about getting married to someone — that’s a great idea because if there’s a two-parent family, the prospect of living in poverty goes down dramatically. The opportunities that the child will — will be able to achieve increase dramatically.

So we can make changes in the way our culture works to help bring people away from violence and give them opportunity and bring them in the American system.
I don't care that he mentioned "parents," this was like the world's biggest dog whistle for those trampy, irresponsible unwed mothers, particularly black ones. (For more on Romney's dog whistle strategy, click here.) Let's pretend for the moment that this was not a contemptible attempt to evade the fact that Romney does not support laws addressing gun ownership for the mentally ill, which it totally was. You know what would reduce the number of single parent households, Governor Romney? Subsidized birth control, sex education, safe and legal abortion, and adoption for gay couples. So I'm assuming you must support all of those, right?

As a post-script, I want to talk about one more thing that did not happen at the debate but did happen of the debate and made me want to unsubscribe from society. @5hannnnnon (who has since deleted her account) tweeted: "Obama shut up you nigger. You're a liar. Your brother lives in Kenya where you were born. #Romney2012” and somehow of all the hate-filled ignorant tweets taking place that night, this one got retweeted all up and in the internet. Later she clarified "Omg people calm down I'm not racist. I just hate Obama.” Oh, okay, I didn't realize that ASS OUT BIGOTRY was how we dealt with discourse in our country, good note. So clearly, this girl is a horrible person (although you have to applaud her correct usage of your/re.) But then I go on her twitter page and there is a SLEW of tweets saying things like "I WILL RAPE YOU!!!!!," like A LOT OF THEM. WHAT? So we deal with policy arguments with racism and racism with sexual violence? These are America's voters, kids.

Ask Nancy: 20 Questions for a GOTV Director

I'm not gonna lie, I really like it when people ask me for advice! I especially like when they ask me for advice about GOTV because that, ladies and gentlemen, is my jam. Yesterday I had a conversation with a strapping young man with whom I had GO'dTV before. He is running GOTV on his own for the first time and he wanted to know what questions he should be asking himself. I knew he had been through enough campaigns to know about volunteer recruitment, staging location roles, etc, but needed to hear details that might slip through his fingers. Behold! A list of twenty frequently overlooked questions you should be asking yourself when planing a campaign-wide GOTV operation:

1)Who will be staffing my candidate on election day? (Should be someone he trusts and likes a lot who can keep him on time, keep him calm, make sure he eats, but will dutifully check in with and take instructions from the campaign.)

2)Who is responsible for answering the phones in the office on election day? Campaign staff and Team Leaders can't be taking attention away from their jobs, but someone needs to answer when voters call asking where to vote (and a myriad of other questions). This person should be a trusted and strict friend of the campaign who can restore order under chaos and be comfortable directing traffic.

3)If there are family members/activists who will need a role on election day, but who you do not want running a location or in the headquarters, what will their role be?

4)Who will be allowed in the boiler room?

5)Who is authorized to talk to the press on election day?

6)When is my candidate going to vote?

7)When am I/is my staff going to vote?

8)How will we get volunteers/resources/food between staging locations? (Van, drivers, gas cards?)

9)What unions/organizations/electeds are endorsing us, can they give us bodies or lend us staff on election day?

10)What are endorsing electeds doing on election day, can they stump with or for your candidate?

11)What is our election protection plan?

12)What is the phone number to call if a site does not open on time?

13)Do we need to hold a training for poll watchers?

14)Do our poll watchers need credentials?

15)What is our system for getting numbers back from the polls on election day?

16)Who has phone numbers for the other candidates (in God forbid case that your candidate needs to call and concede)?

17)If we will have a paid canvass for the first time during GOTV, how will they pick up their paychecks after the election?

18)What happens if we run out of phone lines?

19)Do my staging locations have internet access?

20)Where and when will printing for walk and phone packets happen?/Do we have ink?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


These are the things that make me cry friends. Priceless.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Ask Nancy: Coordination

Hi Nancy! First I'd like to say how much I appreciate your open source approach to your tumblr. Operatives across the USA rely on you for a place to vent their frustrations and be entertained. My question is about coordination. Do you have some best practices? I could really use some advice. THANKS!


I do! I would like to spend more time on this subject but in the interest of cleaning out my inbox and responding to all (or most) of the queries here is the quick and dirty of my rules for coordination.

1) Coordinate as early as possible (and makes sense). This will give your team the most time to figure out the growing pains that inevitably come with coordination and it's more efficient.

2) Respect and preach respect. Up and down the ticket there is no race that is "more important" than another. Because inevitably some campaigns bring more resources to the table than others, some will have more power but this is NOT an excuse to bulldoze other campaigns. I know some of you are feeling me on this problem right now. You and the other senior members of the field teams need to be able to present a united front. You need to communicate and enforce respect for each others candidates and programs. Your attitude is contagious for better or worse. If you don't treat your partner campaigns with respect, your underlings will pick up on it and your entire operation will suffer.

3) Create a clear chain of command. No one likes to feel like they are giving up control. However, it's even worse when you're told you'll be in charge of a region/office/function only to discover someone else has been promised the same thing. This leads to duplicate work and a lot of unnecessary toe stepping. There is more than enough to do during GOTV, so give everyone a role appropriate to their experience and expertise and enforce those roles, even when it's a little uncomfortable.

4) Do what you say you'll do. If your campaign is supposed to ID for up or down ticket races, it is up to you to ensure that this actually happens and that the data is shared in a timely manner. Do not accept "people don't get that far" as an excuse from your field offices. Your leadership teams need to work out a script where a second or third ID is possible and you need to communicate that shirking this responsibility is unacceptable. It makes a huge difference for trust (and therefore the success of coordination) especially at the ground level if these agreements are carried out early on.

5) Thank everyone. Believe it or not we are all on the same team. Take every opportunity to thank your partners and praise them in front of other staff and volunteers. This doesn't mean condescend each other, and it doesn't mean just lip service. Make a genuine effort to make your partners on every level feel appreciated and they will work harder for you and for your joint campaign.

Be excellent to each other!


Paul Ryan Forces His Way Into a Soup Kitchen Like It's a Stranger's Uterus

How is this story not getting more attention?

Washington Post:
The head of a northeast Ohio charity says that the Romney campaign last week “ramrodded their way” into the group’s Youngstown soup kitchen so that GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan could get his picture taken washing dishes in the dining hall...

“We’re a faith-based organization; we are apolitical because the majority of our funding is from private donations,” Antal said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. “It’s strictly in our bylaws not to do it. They showed up there, and they did not have permission. They got one of the volunteers to open up the doors.”

He added: “The photo-op they did wasn’t even accurate. He did nothing. He just came in here to get his picture taken at the dining hall...”

Had they asked for permission, it wouldn’t have been granted. … But I certainly wouldn’t have let him wash clean pans, and then take a picture,” Antal said.

This story is shocking and unsurprising at the same time. Paul Ryan thinks poverty (not to mention health care and civil liberties) is a political game. He has no respect for the wishes or privacy of individuals or organizations. By forcing his way in for a photo op, he is trivializing the work that this organization does AND the conditions that make that work necessary. It doesn't register for him that these are real peoples lives. WHO IS VOTING FOR THIS MAN? Beyond despicable.

October Haze

I owe you all an apology, or at least we owe each other one. All week I have been reading my tumblr submissions thinking "REALLY? You guys are having petty turf wars? Do you not know there's an election in three weeks?" or "Stop telling me to update my tumblr! Don't you know I have A LIFE?" It's not that I don't empathize with your on the ground frustrations, nor I assume, are you unappreciative of my community building efforts, we're just suffering from October Haze. I've blogged before about Month Out Madness, the giddiness that ensues from the last weeks of an election where staffers start pranking each other and dancing in the office, but October Haze is a semi-distinct phenomenon.

The best way to describe October Haze to those who have not experienced it is like having a really bad cold, but not being able to call out sick from your obligations. All around you people are enjoying themselves, laughing, playing, making plans. Meanwhile you're on auto-pilot just trying to get through the day. You can barely taste your food. You can't think about anything other than the task at hand. When people contact you with extraneous requests or information, even with the best intentions, your immediate reaction is something like "AAAAAH!!! I cannot deal with this right now?!" Sound familiar?

While I am not on a campaign right now, I am going to be starting next week, which means that all my work for the following two weeks (midterms) has been crammed into this one. I understand the gravity of I saying this, but I truly may as well be working on an election.

I'm bringing this up for a number of reasons. First, to explain why I have been off my blogging game of late. When it comes to sacrificing writing about elections for the sake of actually working on elections, that's a no brainer (although tell that to my Elections Professor).

Second, I want to give you some unsolicited advice. As I mentioned in my GOTV article in 2010, now more than ever it is important that you be calm and kind to each other. I have gotten a lot of messages about frustration with coordination between campaigns, feeling like a coworker is not pulling their weight, etc. You have SO LITTLE extra energy to expend right now, do you really want to be spending it on that? I can't tell you how valuable your ability to keep a cool head will be as we go through this final push. I'm not sanctioning bad behavior, I'm just advising you to be aware of your own.

Most of my readers have never lost a campaign and let me tell you, it sucks. It sucks more to lose than it feels good to win, but winning is less satisfying and losing is worse if you look back and think, "I acted like an asshole." So while I'm all about leaving it on the field, I urge you to do so in a respectful and constructive manner.

Thus spake Nancathustra.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Obama Big Bird Ad

I am the acme of business lately and I apologize for not updating as regularly as I would like. However, I had to share this ad with you. As you may remember Mitt Romney made the comment "I love Big Bird" during the debate to defend his policy of cutting funding to PBS.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Official CampaignSick Debate Watch Drinking Game!

That's right friends! The evening of the first debate is upon us. I have to say I am pretty excited about the smattering of attendees I'm expected at my house this evening. They include Democrats, Undecideds (I know, right?), Republicans, men, woman, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Blacks, Whites, Asians, gay people, straight people Danes, Chinese, Mexicans and my past and future secret it should be very interesting! Some of these rules are borrowed from here. But most are from myself and my brilliant friends! Look for my tweets at #Campaignsick between hosting duties and feel free to tweet along!

Official CampaignSick Drinking Game Rules

1)Every time the candidates mention a % of the population (99, 1, 47) drink that % of your drink.

2)Any time candidates mention reproductive rights or equal pay, all the women take a drink (because you’ll need it.)

3)Any time the candidates mention welfare, entitlement, Medicaid or Medicare, refill your glass with a beverage someone else brought.

4)Finish your drink if either candidate accuses the other of making race an issue in the campaign.

5)If a candidate goes over time chug your drink until the moderater stops him.

6)Toast and take a drink every time Romney tries on of his “zingers.”

7)Toast and take a drink whenever the candidates reference a former President (Bush, Clinton, Reagan etc)

8)If either candidate says “Obamacare” or “Romneycare” raise your drink. The last person to raise her/his glass must finish her/his drink.

9)Drink if Obama starts a sentence with “Now Look” or “Listen” followed by a long pause

10)Take a small sip for “small business” references, take a large gulp for “big business.”

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Ask An Election Nerd: Should I leave my current campaign to go work for another one?

I've gotten this question a lot in several different iterations and while my answer isn't very detailed, I wanted to put something out there once and for all:

Generally, I will not hire someone who had previously left a race they were on this late in the game, even if it happened in a different cycle. I think it shows a lack of loyalty and character. Remember, we work in a very small world.

I also think it is bad practice to poach someone else's campaign staff. At the end of the day we're all Democrats and no "level" of campaign, Presidential, Federal, Local, is more important than another. This is the kind of attitude that leads to messiness and resentment that lingers long after the campaign ends and frankly it's disrespectful and condescending. (That's right. You know who you are.)

That said, if you are on a non-competitive race and you get offered a position somewhere competitive, that's another story. Same goes if you have become genuinely disillusioned with your candidate or operation or if you are an intern or unpaid staffer being offered a paid position. Then by all means, go for it.

I mean really, do whatever you want. You will neither be the first nor the the last. It's just kind of a crappy thing to do unless you have mitigating circumstances as described above.

So close and yet so far!

Friday, September 28, 2012

What Your Beer Says About Your Vote

We've all heard the old adage that people vote for the candidate they'd most like to sit down and have a beer with, but what exactly would that beer be? The National Journal analyzed the beer preferences of 200,000 American adults and came up with the chart above. According to my beer preferences, I am a likely voting Republican or really, an Independent because I am a huge beer snob and there are only like four beers up there that I would allow to graze my delicate partisan lips.

The article was sparked by Dos Equis' Most Interesting Man in the World -whose real name is Jonathan Goldsmith (Jew!) and who is actually an extremely interesting dude-'s decision to host a fundraiser for Obama. Both the company and apparently consumers of its beer do not have an official political stance.

Canvassing: It Gets Votes and It Saves Lives

From Oregon Live:
"A Portland man [and canvassing for the Oregon branch of Working America] says he just happened to be at the right place, at the right time Wednesday evening to save an Oregon City woman from a fire in her home and extinguish the flames before crews arrived...

"I was raised to take the initiative to help people when you can," he said. "The opportunity presented itself in this case. But I'd like to think if the tables were turned and I was in trouble, someone would help me...."

Michael Taeu, originally from Hawaii, said he was just glad he could help. His boss gave him the rest of the night off from canvassing."
Really? The night off? Is he aware that the election is in less than 40 days? All kidding aside, this is a wonderful heroic story and I am not at all surprised. The type of people who are politically engaged are the type of people driven to make society better. As this extremely interesting article for my extremely boring poli sci class points out, rational people vote to improve society at large. Truly, we are a wonderful people.

Yard Sign With Candidate's Name On It Electrifies Congressional Race

Hilarious Onion article submitted without comment except this.

Wake the Fuck Up!!

If you haven't seen this, good because that means I am not the last one, but you need to watch this right now then you need to share it with all your friends. Not only is it clever and hilarious but it so accurately captures the problem with voter apathy this season. Do people not see that this election is actually more important than the last one? And yes, fellow nerds, I mean 2008 not like last week or 2010.

So this is amazing and it is sponsored by the Jewish Education and Research Council, which also brought us The Great Schlep and Sarah Silverman's latest Voter ID piece. Can't think of two groups I am prouder to be a part of. I'm kvelling!!!

Website Here.
Safe for Work version here.